NHS psychiatrist, 57, ‘kissed and cuddled female colleagues in unwanted ‘touchy-feely’ contact over two years they worked together at mental hospital’
By Joe Middleton
October 22, 2019
A NHS psychiatrist kissed and cuddled female colleagues whilst subjecting them to two years of unwanted ‘touchy feely’ contact at the hospital they worked at, a tribunal heard today.
Dr James Ugbo, 57, was said to have given workmates ‘the creeps’ after he repeatedly touched the arms and hands of women for ‘lingering periods,’ planted kisses on their cheeks and showered them with compliments.
He told one senior doctor: ‘You look like a vision in pink’ adding: ‘You dress elegantly and amazingly’ and later tried to kiss a nurse on the lips as she was working in her office after asking: ‘Is it all right if I kiss you’.
During a doctors’ night out, Ugbo – whose wife Patience works a mental health nurse – accosted two of his colleagues and placed his arms around them saying: ‘I am with the two most attractive women in the bar’. He later tried to kiss of them as he was saying goodbye at the end of the evening.
One staff member was reduced to tears by the doctor’s advances and had to be escorted away from work by a fellow nurse in case she bumped into Ugbo. She had earlier told a workmate: ‘Reverse, reverse, I can’t bear to go to him- that guy creeps me out’, when they spotted him walking up a corridor towards them.
In another incident Ugbo caressed another doctor’s stomach after she said ‘it looks like I am pregnant’ when she left bloated after a lunch.
At the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service Ugbo faces sexual misconduct charges involving five women known as Colleagues, A, B, C, D and E. He denies wrongdoing claiming the women had ‘misinterpreted’ his ‘usual behaviour’ and said he was ‘shocked’ at their allegations.
The encounters occurred between 2015 and 2017 whilst Ugbo was working as a locum speciality registrar on the adult mental health services team at Elmleigh psychiatric hospital in Havant, Portsmouth, Hants.
Alan Taylor lawyer for the General Medical Council told the Manchester hearing: ‘Colleague A says Dr Ugbo would say to her: ‘you look like a vision in pink’, or ‘you look ever so nice today’. He said on one occasion: ‘our of all the doctors I have ever met, you always dress elegantly and amazingly’.
‘Dr Ugbo was also touching as well. It was unnecessary touching and leaving his hand on Colleague A’s hands and arms. He seemed to look for excuses to touch Colleague A’s hand or arm, in her words, ‘gentle lingering touching’.
‘Whenever she returned to work from annual leave, he would kiss her on the cheek. Colleague A felt uncomfortable but left it, and tried to ignore it.
‘She thought her herself ‘let it go, just let it go’. But in May 2017, during a doctors night out, Colleague A was at the bar with Colleague E.
‘Dr Ugbo came over and said: ‘I am with the two most attractive women in the bar’ and then put his arms around them.
‘Colleague A had invited some of her colleagues back to her house after the meal out and amongst them was Dr Ugbo. At one point, Colleague A recalls being sat in the lounge and Dr Ugbo touched her face and commented on the dimple in her cheek.
‘When his taxi arrived, Colleague A showed him to the door but whilst at the front door he grabbed her face with his hands and said ‘let me kiss you’ and tried to put his tongue in her mouth. ‘She pulled away but he pulled her towards him and tried to put his tongue in her mouth again, she pushed him away and said: ‘no!’, and he left.
‘She went back into the lounge and told Colleague E saying it was ‘really horrible’ and he ‘tried to kiss her’. ‘Colleague E then told Colleague A that he had also been ‘touchy feely’ with her.’
Later Colleague A sent a text message to Dr Ugbo saying: ‘when you tried to kiss me on Friday it was not welcome and I hope it won’t happen again’.
He replied the follow day saying: ‘Please accept my apology, I’m sorry’ and subsequently blamed the incident on alcohol although he was seen to drink two glasses of red wine a glass of rum during the evening.
Colleague A later said in a statement: ‘I have worked with Dr Ugbo for the last two years and he has always been sexually inappropriate towards me. It started with comments about my clothing and appearance and moving into touching my hands and arms unnecessarily. After a doctors night out, Dr Ugbo grabbed me and forced himself on me, trying to kiss me twice. I pushed him away and sent him a message saying it was unwelcome and hoped it wouldn’t happen again.’
The hearing was told another medic known as Colleague B recalled Ugbo as a ‘touchy doctor who would place his hand on her arm or back’.
Mr Taylor said: ‘On one occasion, she was sitting in her office on her phone when Dr Ugbo came in. He asked her how she was then walked around to her right side and asked her out if the blue ‘is it alright if I kiss you’.
‘Without thinking about it she said ‘yes’ and Dr Ugbo went to kiss her on the lips. As she turned her face away to her left, Dr Ugbo kissed her on the cheek then walked back around and asked how to order controlled drugs. She thought about reporting the incident but decided not to as she felt it was a waste of time as she said yes to being kissed and she thought people might laugh at her.
‘Colleague B remembers a conversation with Colleague C in which Colleague B told her Dr Ugbo gave her ‘the creeps’. She said she tried to avoid him. She said ‘he just made me feel so uncomfortable’.
‘Colleague C knew Dr Ugbo from having worked with his wife who was a staff nurse at a different hospital yet she recalls some form of physical contact from him on an almost daily basis. It started off as a brush with his hand, then on the shoulder or lower back and it was more prolonged. He was placing his hands on her lower back for ‘far too long’ and this was making her feel ‘extremely awkward’.
‘He also gave Colleague C a ‘cuddle or a hug’. She did not say anything to him because he was worried as he was a doctor. At one of the meetings they attended, she attended early to get a seat and he would come and sit next to her, despite there being lots of other seats.
‘He would comment that she ‘looked lovely’ and compliment on her clothing. He would lean in to kiss her on the cheek and on one occasion he pulled her clothing away from her shoulder saying: ‘oh, that does come off your shoulder’. He also said that she looked lovely.
‘Colleague C did not have the confidence to be confrontational with him and he also began playing with her finger and she described him rubbing his finger against her little finger. It got to the stage where Colleague C would make a detour around the hospital to avoid seeing him.
‘One one occasion Colleague C was with another colleague when they came round a bend and saw Dr Ugbo, and she said: ‘reverse, reverse, I can’t bear to go to him, that guy creeps me out’. Half an hour later she saw him coming towards her.
‘She said ‘Hi James’ and knew he would kiss her so she turned her head as she tried to avoid being kissed. He then turned his head and kissed her on the lips, then took her hand and let her to his office. ‘He told her she didn’t look well. She said she was tired but the real reason was she was ‘in shock and felt vulnerable’. Dr Ugbo said ‘you need a glass of wine, doctors orders’.
‘She ended the conversation and she said she had to go. She went back to her office and was physically shaking, pale and in shock. Her voice was cracking as if she was only the verge of crying. She was told to go home if she needed to and another nurse accompanied her out of the hospital as she was worried about bumping into him.
‘What he had done made her feel anxious and she had time off work with anxiety and discomfort due to the need to avoid Dr Ugbo.
Colleague D said that Dr Ugbo was ‘very touchy feely’ and thought he was ‘over-friendly.’
Colleague E claims in one incident she had eaten her lunch and was left feeling bloated.
In an off the cuff remark, she said ‘it looks like I am pregnant’ and then he came over and caressed her stomach as she tried to ignore it.
The women complained to a clinical director at the hospital in July 2017.
The hearing continues.